Bingbo (text), Gumi (illus.), The Busy Tailor Crab, Starfish Bay Children’s Books, Sept 2016, 40pp., $25.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781760360412
This is the story of the tailor crab, a crafty crustacean who runs a clothes tailoring business. After making a vest for a praying mantis and some pants for a caterpillar, the tailor crab decides on a standard fee for his work: $10 per item and $5 per pants leg. It seems a simple solution to make his business run smoother. He does not mind losing the business of those who cannot afford his fees. ‘That is not my problem,’ he declares. This lack of empathy is challenged when some surprising customers use his ‘fair’ rates to their own advantage.
With the feel of a Chinese fable, it is not surprising that the tale is by Bingbo, a multi-award winning children’s writer. His tale of the hardworking crab explores concepts of equality, equity and kindness. It is a great discussion starter for parents with their children about the value of work and what is fair.
The illustrations by Gumi are water colour and pencil. Gumi employs colourful pages juxtaposed with those more subtly coloured to convey emotion. The image of the red tailor crab sitting within a grey scene, his emotions a swirling mass of colourful chaos above him, is a favourite of mine.
The Busy Tailor Crab is a thoughtful tale for children aged five to eight.
Reviewed by Fiona Miller-Stevens